Campus gears up for Parents Weekend activities
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 02:10
The Tufts Parents Giving Program will host its 25th annual Parents and Family Weekend, beginning this Friday and ending on Sunday, featuring student performances, faculty lectures and various activities for parents.
The purpose of the weekend is to demonstrate the wide range of academics and activities available on campus, according to Parents Giving Program Director Gina DeSalvo.
“[Family Weekend] is a time to give parents the opportunity to see the incredible experience students are having here at Tufts, and everything they’ve worked hard for to send their kid to Tufts is really happening,” she said.
This year, the weekend’s proceedings will center on the theme “Local History, Global Future,” DeSalvo explained.
“It’s a very broad theme, so it broadens the opportunity to really highlight to parents all the exciting and cool courses at Tufts,” she said. “I sit down with deans on campus and brainstorm about what’s interesting here on campus and what parents would be interested in hearing about. This year we all agreed it’s a great opportunity to showcase where Tufts has been and where we’re going.”
On Friday, campus guests will have the opportunity to hear from members of the administration, including Dean of the School of Engineering Linda Abriola and Dean of Arts and Sciences Joanne Berger-Sweeney, DeSalvo said.
“We’ll also be hearing from [Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris], and it’ll give us an overview of the school and where we see the school going,” DeSalvo said.
The Tufts Career Center will also host a career-networking event, giving parents the chance to share advice and contact information with students looking for careers in their fields.
The Avenue of the Arts Festival will take place from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The event will showcase many performance groups on campus at the Arts Square on Talbot Avenue, the Aidekman Arts Center, Granoff Music Center and the Mayer Campus Center. Visitors can also attend home games from the men and women’s soccer, football and field hockey teams throughout the afternoon.
DeSalvo explained that these events offer family members a taste of students’ accomplishments around campus.
“Your parents don’t get to come to all of your performances, and they’re used to being able to do that, so this is an [opportunity] for them to see you and your friends at Avenue of the Arts or in an athletic game,” she said. “It really builds a strong sense of community amongst the parents at Tufts.”
Saturday will also feature five faculty lectures on topics ranging from Japanese anime to deceased poets, DeSalvo said. A keynote address from Professor of Art and Art History Andrew McClellan, titled “Jumbo: Marvel, Myth and Mascot,” will examine McClellan’s eight-year long research project on Jumbo the elephant.
“In bringing out his history I’m aiming to make the claim that our university has the coolest, most interesting mascot in America,” McClellan said. “I hope to demonstrate that by illustrating his history and his fame across a century’s time with different kinds of images and products.”
McClellan’s speech will preface the launch of his exhibit on Jumbo the elephant at Tufts next fall.
“In a way, [Jumbo] became the first animal celebrity, and I’m interested in how that happened,” he said. “I’m interested in his imagery and how he became a celebrity in the media.”
In addition to a morning Fun Run/Walk on Sunday, University Professor of Judaic Studies Sol Gittleman and Director of the Experimental College Robyn Gittleman will give the endnote address, entitled “Tufts 1964-2014: A University Transforms Itself.” According to Gittleman, the lecture will focus on a 50-year history of Tufts and higher education across the country.
“You can’t understand the evolution of Tufts until you understand the evolution of American higher education,” he said. “It evolved from something that was very mediocre into where we are now, which is the envy of the world. We’ve got a system with 4,000 colleges and universities, half public and half private. There’s nothing like it in the world.”
DeSalvo anticipates that between 3,000 and 3,500 family members will visit campus this weekend, but emphasized that parents are not the only ones welcome to participate in the festivities.
“It’s not just parents that come, but also grandparents, siblings and sometimes aunts and uncles,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for extended family. We have family coming as far as Kuala Lumpur and as close as Medford.”
DeSalvo hopes that the multitude of events offered for families over the course of the weekend will lead to parents’ appreciation of students’ work.
“We’re very grateful that we have such strong parent support at the weekend,” she said. “We look forward to the weekend all year.”